Join us for a special port roundup, where we look back at some of our favorite games of the past two years now that they’ve been ported to new system. Here are Beyond a Steel Sky, the Enhanced Edition of Oddworld: Soulstorm and the Complete Edition of Iron Harvest.
Beyond A Steel Sky (Xbox/PlayStation)
As a sequel to one of the most beloved point and click adventures in history – especially outside of the Lucasarts and Sierra libraries, Beyond a Steel Sky took its time to get here. After it was announced, it briefly became an Apple Arcade exclusive, leaving PC fans of Beneath a Steel Sky waiting for another month.
The wait was worth it though, as we loved the narrative and modernized visual style for the game – though it felt a bit removed from the style of the original classic, trading in the old mouse pointer for direct control of Robert Foster. On the plus side, however, that has made the transition to consoles a comfortable one, as gamepad control feels like a natural fit for the game.
The leap to next gen consoles doesn’t bring a visual upgrade with it, but as the PC build already supported 4K visuals this was hardly needed. What’s more important to point out is that the performance issues that some people were having with the PC version seem to have been ironed out for the console port. We never had any trouble ourselves, but it’s nice to know that it runs smooth on consoles – at least on the PlayStation 5 version we tested.
Gameplay-wise, this is the same experience and narrative that PC owners got a year and a half ago – something we talked about more in our review at that time. Having played that version we blazed through the console port, but it still took us over seven hour to complete and you’ll need ten or more on your initial playthrough. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Beyond a Steel Sky on PC before and enjoy a good narrative-driven sci-fi adventure, be sure to grab and play this for the holidays.
Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition (Xbox)
Although we loved it when we reviewed it, reactions to Oddworld: Soulstorm were mixed when it launched earlier this year. Most people really enjoyed the next gen upgrade to the visuals, but some complained about bugs and a lack of gameplay polish in certain places – we also pointed out some of these. That’s looking to be rectified with the release of the Oddworld: Soulstorm Enhanced Edition though, which is an entirely new release for Xbox players who previously weren’t even able to play the game and a free upgrade for those on PlayStation and PC.
If you played the original version at launch, the biggest change you’ll notice is that the behavior of NPCs/Mudokons feels much more lifelike this time around, with better AI controlling them as you’re trying to keep them safe. Abe also feels more responsive now than he did before, and although responsive controls were never really a staple of the franchise it’s nice to see that that’s been tightened up as well.
The biggest change, however, comes in the shape of brand new content. Surprisingly, there is some system-exclusive content as well, as Xbox owners get Vykkers Lab while PlayStation and PC owners get new content called Toby’s Escape. Since we played the Xbox version this time, we played around with the Vykkers Lab levels – returning from Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. It’s a lovely throwback for old time fans of the franchise, but we’d definitely recommend mastering the main campaign first as Vykkers Lab features some of the most challenging puzzles in the game.
Soulstorm’s Enhanced Edition is a nice upgrade to an already excellent game, and the best way to play it right now. The new content is a wonderful surprise as well, though we’re hoping that it’s a timed exclusive in terms of availability – that way Xbox owners can play Toby’s Escape as well, and PlayStation players can try their hand at Vykkers Lab. Fingers crossed!
Iron Harvest Complete Edition (PS5)
It feels a little cheap to say that Iron Harvest has been one of our favorite Real Time Strategy games in recent years, simply because it’s a genre that’s not seeing a lot of love from developers these days. The game can hold its own though, and we enjoyed the new setting it brought to the genre when we discussed it in our review of the PC version. It’s now available for next-gen consoles as well though, and the Complete Edition also includes the post-launch DLC of the PC version.
And while RTS games are rare in general, they’re even more rare on consoles. If you were originally a PC RTS gamer but have migrated to a console in the living room to spend more time with the family, then you haven’t exactly been spoilt for choice. From that perspective, it’s nice to see that Iron Harvest looks and run great on a PlayStation 5 – we’re guessing that the choice to only release next gen versions first had to do with the fact that they didn’t want to compromise on quality or delay the port further. If that’s true, it worked – this is easily the best looking real time strategy experience you can find on a console.
Iron Harvest on PS5 fares less well in an another area though. The control system for almost any real time strategy game designed for PC play is going to be tricky to convert to a gamepad, and this one stays a bit too close to the original to be comfortable and intuitive for console gamers. The port of Frostpunk, by comparison, felt much more tailored to the needs of gamepad players. But while that can lead to the occasional struggle and we couldn’t get our console to work with a mouse, it’s not enough to stop this port from being enjoyable. Because it comes with all of the DLC there is plenty of content as well, so if you missed out on the PC version then this is a meaty game to sink your teeth into.